Saturday, December 09, 2006

The roots of altruism

I've always been interested in altruism and insisted that people don't do things out of the goodness of their hearts but because it makes them feel good OR there is some advantage to the altruistic act. What follows seems to bear out my hypothesis:

Biological Psychology Fourth Edition

Chapter 6. Evolution of Brain and Behavior

Links 1 - 20 of 615
Why altruism paid off for our ancestors
Richard Fisher
Humans may have evolved altruistic traits as a result of a cultural “tax” we paid to each other early in our evolution, a new study suggests. The research also changes what we knew about the genetic makeup of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The origin of human altruism has puzzled evolutionary biologists for many years (see Survival of the nicest).

In every society, humans make personal sacrifices for others with no expectation that it will be reciprocated. For example, we donate to charity, or care for the sick and disabled. This trait is extremely rare in the natural world, unless there is a family relationship or later reciprocation. One theory to explain how human altruism evolved involves the way we interacted as groups early in our evolution. Towards the end of the Pleistocene period – about 12,000 years ago – humans foraged for food as hunter-gatherers. These groups competed against each other for survival. Under these conditions, altruism towards other group-members would improve the overall fitness of the group. If an individual defended the group but was killed, any genes that the individual shared with the overall group would still be passed on. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd
Keyword: Evolution
Posted: 12.08.2006

From Biological Psychology Links

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